Friday, August 27, 2010

Double-standard Dawkins

I have just been watching a documentary with Richard Dawkins about faith schools. Watching it and hearing Dawkins again, it merely confirmed finally my opinion of the man. I have long gone past the initial anger and frustration with him. I think as I've matured and continued to observe and listen to what he says and the campaigns he supports, the thing I have realised is that in actual fact, its merely that I cannot have any respect for him.

  I can cope with aethists or people of other worldviews criticising Christianity and the church, and actually find intelligent debate with aethists or non-beleivers I know quite stimulating, and helps me grow in my faith.

  But what Dawkins does is totally different.

  You see, the problem he has is that he operates on a set of assumptions that are fundamentally wrong. The principle one of these is that somehow religion and religious worldviews are somehow in a different category from so-called 'non-religious' worldviews. There is an assumption that what he believes is somehow in a different category from faith, because its based on science or something more proven or more accepted by mainstream culture, when in fact his own worldview itself is not 100% proven and involves a level of faith. And when actually the Christian faith for example is just as much a worldview as his own.

  In this documentary for example he criticises faith-based schools for 'imposing ideas on children'. In one example however there are muslims attending 'Christian' schools, and in fact are still muslims. He is genuinely shocked by this, but fails to see this as evidence that his ideas are flawed.

  He also just assumes the theory of evolution is right, and that its perfectly fine to tell people as fact that its true, and gives the impression that anyone who tries to convince someone of a different view of the history of the world and how we got here is forcing a false idea of them.

  He seems to think its okay to indocterinate people to believe his own worldview, because he beleives it's scientific fact and therefore applicable to different views. But to try and educate people in a different worldview - while still educating them about scientific views of the world like evolution - is somehow imposing ideas on people. If he had his way, he'd have all children being educated in the theory of evolution as fact, and religions as something seperate, something that's not proven.

  The reality is that his own worldview is just that - a worldview, and it should be subject to the same questions and criticisms as other worldviews like the Christian worldview. His own worldview he might think is based on fact - but evolution isn't 100% proven fact at all, and requires some level of faith just the same as a belief in any other worldview.

  The gospel and the book of Acts for example, are a historical record of events written not long after they happened by some people who were involved in them. When historical events were handed down verbally at that time it wasn't like Chinese Whispers where things get changed and altered over time - there was a strong emphasis on keeping the story the same, as that's how events were handed down. Paul speaks about 500 people who testified and were still alive who had seen the risen Christ, and to be honest if they were trying to create a fictional relgion having someone raise from the dead and the first witness to be a woman - whose testimony wasn't valid at the time in a court of law or in culture - really wasn't the way to do it.

  So there is historical and factual evidence for the Jesus worldview, and that's of course not including the testimony of the many people whose lives have been transformed by faith, and people who have been healed from disease.

  Of course, the Christian faith can't be 100% proven, it involves a level of faith. But so does Dawkins' worldview, despite having a lot of evidence to back it up.

  Dawkins, for someone so intelligent, comes across as very naive and ignorant. He worries about parents imposing their views on their children, but doesn't seem to mind when trying to make sure his own children are attending a school which supports his worldview of how he wants his children to be educated. There's a Catholic priest he talks to about this who almost straight out, and says he's trying to force his opinions on others.

  He comes across more and more as someone who seems to be double-minded when it comes to religion and faith, and blind to the fact that his own worldview is equally valid as those who follow one of the world religions and in a very arrogant narrow-minded way seems to think his worldview is exempt from this.

  Now let me make this clear. The church is no saint. The church is divided, hypocritical and has been guilty of all sorts of awful things. It has been narrow minded and arrogant, and stil can be. But religion and the church can distract us from the real message and teaching of Jesus - grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, justice. Religion is a massive problem and Jesus didn't like religous people, and the church so should not be restricted or bound up with religion that they forget the heart of the message.

  Above all though, Dawkins worldview should be subject to the same criticisms and questions, and he either fails to see this, or just chooses to ignore it.

  I have no personal gripe with Dawkins, he's perfectly entitled to his views and free to express them. I truly hope one day he discovers what I believe to be the reality of Jesus, and that science and faith, rather than being opposites, can help explain and compliment each other, as many scientists who are Christians beleive. As a Chrisitan I am called to love him as a brother, and pray for him.

  But if he continues in the way he is, then I will not and cannot respect him.

  To me, he seems as intent on imposing his own worldview on people in exactly the same way that he accuses 'religous people' of doing, and thinks that because his worldview is 'scientifically proven' then its fact, and isn't subject to the same rules as 'religions'.

  Until he realises this, and sees the foolishness and arrogance of this view - even if he remains an aethist after seeing this - then I won't respect him at all, and there's no point debating what he says.

Posted via email from James Prescott